Friday, April 20, 2018

It's About LIFE! | Tazria-Metzora | By His EVERY Word

Parashat Tazria-Metzora

פרשת  תזריע־מצרע

“She Concieved”

Torah Portion: Leviticus 12:1—13:59
Haftarah: Ezekiel 45:16—46:18
B'rit Chadashah/New Covenant: Matthew 8:1 - 4

Shabbat | 21 April 2018 | 6 Iyyar 5778 

This week’s Torah portion, Tazria,” opens with the disconcerting pronouncement that a woman shall be considered unclean following childbirth. 
How can one make sense of this? Children are a blessing from God, after all! The key, as always, is CONTEXT and PERSPECTIVE. 
There is Adonai’s viewpoint, which is high and lifted up, and then there is ours... 
LIFE IS HOLY. And there is no aspect of the lifeof those who carry the Divine Name—that is left to serendipity. 
Like the beautiful Temple, built to house the Holy Presence of God, each and every detail conforms—jointly fitting together for His Glory. 
Even Tzara’at... Leprosy, Mildew, and Mold... (Oh my!)
What’s a Torah Portion, why are we commenting on it, and what relevance does it have to anything?
In a nutshell ... Luke 24:27 tells us that Yeshua (Jesus) revealed Himself through the Old Testament Scriptures, beginning with Moses and the Prophets.  From the time of Ezra, the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) has been read in a yearly rotation by Israel, and this tradition is still observed today. 
In Yeshua’s time, a complimentary portion from the Prophetsthe Haftarah portionwas added to the weekly rotation of readings. Thus, for over two millennia, the children of Abraham have kept this unifying rhythm of studying the same Scriptures year by year, week by week, along with commentaries from the sages, including those who influenced the Apostle Paul, such as Hillel. It is therefore enriching and enlightening to delve into these foundational treasures, unearthing the riches of hidden insights revealed in the original Hebrew language or “listening” through the ears of Yeshua’s contemporaries to gain a fresh understanding of this faith sprung from Hebraic soil, and purchased with Jewish blood, by a Son of Israel, the King of the Jews. 
Join us now at the Father’s table as we keep the rhythm of Israel for more than two millennia, anticipating fresh manna from our God and King. As followers of Messiah we have added a corresponding New Covenant (Testament) portion reflecting the fulfillment and crown of the Torah.

Leviticus 12:1-8  Life is Holy

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel, saying: ‘When a woman gives birth and bears a male child, then she shall be unclean for seven days, as in the days of her menstruation she shall be unclean. On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Then she shall remain in the blood of her purification for thirty-three days; she shall not touch any consecrated thing, nor enter the sanctuary until the days of her purification are completed. But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean for two weeks, as in her menstruation; and she shall remain in the blood of her purification for sixty-six days.’” vv. 1-5

From Adonai’s Viewpoint, Reproduction is Not a Merely Biological Function
Israel will learn to see life as a miracle from the Hand of the Almighty. From the Matriarchs; Sarah, Rebecca, and Rachel, to Hannah and the Shunamite woman, Adonai taught Israel’s mothers to look to Him, the Author of Life, for their children. And throughout their history, Israel has rarely had the luxury to take life or survival for granted. It doesn’t just happen

So why is the mother of this grand miracle of creation called unclean? We have to understand that she has not become “detestable” to Adonai like “unclean” animals for food, although there is a correlation.

While the “clean” and “unclean” animals we just studied in our last parsha were “unfit” as food, they were not "unfit" or "unclean" as creations in themselves. Each was created by the Almighty for a purpose.

In the same way, for a period of time, while a new mother has an issuance of blood, she is ceremonially unfit.” Thus, she must stay home with her new baby. (Is this such a bad thing?!)

In reading Jewish commentaries on this difficult to understand Scripture, I found many wonderful insights: 
  • Adonai mandated a special time for the mother to recover, preserving life which is sacred and holyan entirely revolutionary concept in the ancient world!
  • The mother and child had a special time to bond
  • The mother and child were kept safe from infection during these first vulnerable weeks (protecting LIFE which is sacred and holy)
  • Some psychologists propose that a mother and son bond more readily than a mother and daughter, therefore... Adonai gave extra time for the mother to be with her daughter, the mother of the next generation ... brilliant!
I found a contemporary commentary particularly inspiring: 
“It is as if God were saying to the mother: for 40 days in the case of a boy, and doubly so in the case of a girl (the mother-daughter bond is ontologically stronger than that between mother and son), I exempt you from coming before Me in the place of holiness because you are fully engaged in one of the holiest acts of all, nurturing and caring for your child.
"Unlike others you do not need to visit the Temple to be attached to life in all its sacred splendour. You are experiencing it yourself, directly and with every fibre of your being. Days, weeks, from now you will come and give thanks before Me (together with offerings for having come through a moment of danger). But for now, look upon your child with wonder. For you have been given a glimpse of the great secret, otherwise known only to God.
"Childbirth exempts the new mother from attendance at the Temple because her bedside replicates the experience of the Temple. She now knows what it is for love to beget life and in the midst of mortality to be touched by an intimation of immortality.”
Rabbi Lord Sacks, Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, 
Don't you love that? We read through these Torah passages and so often find them dry because we miss the Heart of the Divine beyond the standards of the structure He is building. I think Adonai would desire that we would  find delight and awe even in the very difficult or most mundane of passages.

Leviticus 12:6-8 specifies the offering the new mother is to bring to the priest for him to offer on her behalf before the LORD. We may ask again, does Adonai look at the young mother as sinful? She has just fulfilled the highest of commands—to be fruitful and bring forth children in His own image! 

The sages of Israel also looked at this from many perspectives. Some were content to relegate it to the category of no earthly reason at all, but, “the Almighty Wills it, blessed be His Holy Name!”  Others see the young mother as having been apart from the life of the community while her affections were entirely directed toward her child. This mother of Israel now re-consecrates herself to the service of the congregation of Israel and Adonai through the acts of sacrifice, sanctification, and atonement. Nothing is “slip-shod.” Adonai touches all aspects of life, because life is sacred and holy. It matters.
This will become normative for the life of Israel. Women will be circumspect regarding the rhythms of their physiology, carefully preserving the ritual purity of those around them, and visiting the mikveh (ritual pool of running water) throughout the year.
This is why it was such a shock to Yeshua (Jesus) when the woman who had the issue of blood reached up and touched the tzitzit, the fringes or tassels of His garment. (Matthew 9, Mark 5, Luke 8) A Jewish woman at that time (as the Orthodox Jewish woman of our time) will not touch a man other than their husband. 

This poor, desperate woman, who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years, just couldn’t help herself! However, she didn’t touch Yeshua ... she reached out and touched the edge of His tallit, or garment. Yes, His clothing would have been rendered “unclean” according to Leviticus 15 and would need to be washed, however, there is something greater to be understood here.

First, defined for us is the reason for the tremendous emphasis on the prohibitions against the eating of blood, and being defiled by the issue of blood as found in Leviticus:

“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.” Leviticus 17:11

LIFE. It’s about Life—the sacredness and holiness of life. Adonai created life, but sin in the nature of man cost His perfect creation the shedding of innocent blood. We ought not mock this or take it lightly

The heathen world mocks God (and His gracious and heartbreaking provision of the sacrifice as a remedy for our sin) by consuming the blood of animals. It is abhorrent and detestable

Pagans believe they can harness the essence of the beast through consuming their blood. Why the intense fascination with vampires in this era of gross darkness? Vampires are the epitome of mocking Adonai and all that’s holy in their brand of “eternal life”—the consumption of human blood.

Hear the Word of the LORD regarding the consuming of blood:

“Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, No person among you may eat blood, nor may any alien who sojourns among you eat blood.” Leviticus 17:12 

Interesting? Not only Israel, but the non-Jews who sojourn with Israel. This is such an abominable practice, that it defiles the household, the community, and the land.

Why is this so important? Again: “For the life of every creature is the blood of it; therefore I have said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any creature, for the life of every creature is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off.” Leviticus 17:14
Israel learned to abhor the things Adonai called detestable. Of course, that served to further alienate Israel from the church, once the church fully embraced the principle of transubstantiation. This debate began during the reign of Constantine, and wasn’t fully rejected until the Protestant Reformation.
The Temple sacrifices were a temporary solution for an eternal problem: The law of sin = death.  

Yeshua came to bring life—life abundant, extraordinary, beyond measure... John 10:10
Now back to our poor woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years. Why would she have done the unthinkable just to touch the edge of Yeshua’s garment?
Malachi 4, believed by the Jewish People to be about the coming of the Messiah, also contains a promise of healing: “ you who fear My name, The Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings. Malachi 4:2

The word “wings” here is a play on words. It is kanaph כנף in Hebrew, "wings," which is being used poetically such as in Psalm 17 and 36, being under the shadow of God’s wings. But kanaph literally means border or edge of a garment. The tzitzit, or tassel on the edge of an observant Jew’s garment represents the Word of God.

“It shall be a tassel (Hebrew, tzitzit  ציצת) for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes...” Numbers 15:39
Can you imagine being in this woman’s place? There is an electric undercurrent of excitement ... could this rabbi be the long-awaited Messiah? And here He comes, passing by within reach... 
Perhaps she was a bold person, or perhaps she was a frail little woman, ravaged by her infirmity, only able to summon the strength for this one last daring move by which God be glorified in this moment recorded for all time... 
The text reveals this woman seized the moment! “...for she was saying to herself, ‘If I only touch His garment, I will get well.’” Matthew 9:21
And rather than rebuke her for defiling His garment, Yeshua said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well. Matthew 9:22

At once she was healed! Yeshua said she was healed because of her faith—in Greek: 
πίστις pē'-stēs, meaning faithfulness—not a passive belief—but a deep, abiding, steadfast conviction that is evidenced by fidelity, character, and action. 
Yet what of Yeshua’s garment being defiled? We aren’t told. The common answer from many “New Testament Believers” would be that Jesus came to do away with “The Law.” Really? That’s a bit simplistic—and borders on Marcionism*, a serious heresy. 

It's common to view the Torah as little more than an oppressive set of commandments, statutes, and regulations that God imposed on the Jews as a system unto salvation. This is error. First, the Torah was given to an already redeemed people (redeemed out of Egypt by God's grace and mercy), to teach (the meaning of the word Torah) them how redeemed people live in the Kingdom of God. They still needed the atonement of the sacrifices for the problem of sin—as we do today. Adonai provided the temporary remedy of bulls, goats, and birds until Messiah. Hallelu-Yah, blessed be His Holy Name!
Although we are learning week by week, that Adonai’s Kingdom is built upon very specific blueprints, His principal goal is Life.  
God is not constructing a grand prison so that he may preside as Celestial Warden. (Actually, that is the convoluted deception of satan—he offers “freedom” to indulge whatever your carnal nature desires—but that “freedom” leads to an eternity of misery with no hope of pardon.)
There is something in the nature of man that rankles at the idea of rules. But there is really no avoiding them. Even the antichrist, the “man of lawlessness” (or Torah-lessness), has rules. His, however, lead to ultimate destruction.

Adonai does not put the rules of His Kingdom above His beloved children, however. This is something that Yeshua sparred with religious authorities on. Many of them did not understand. Most of them were not even spiritual leaders—they were political puppets, capitulating to Rome—blind and lifeless.

They thought they had caught Yeshua breaking the Sabbath, but He left them speechless.

“Jesus said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.’” (Mark 2:27-28) “And He said to them, Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill? But they kept silent.” Mark 3:4

It's About Life!

Most Gentiles don’t know about Pikuach Nefesh, which is the overriding law in Judaism, and established during Jesus' time, that says life is so sacred and holy that saving a life supercedes every commandment in the Torah (as long as to do so doesn’t lead one into forbidden relationships, murder, idol worship, etc.) 
Pikuach nefesh is an idiom meaning to open one’s eyes—or to supervise or oversee the matters of the soul, such as guard another’s life. It is a sacred duty. “Love your neighbor...” 
Through the ages, with much prayer and study, the Hebrew sages came to believe that in the heart of the Almighty the holiness of the human soul is greater than the holiness of adhering to the commandments. This is why there is an obligation to break Shabbat for the sake of a human life or welfare. 
Pikuach nefesh is derived from the biblical verse, “ shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:18) According to pikuach nefesh a person must do everything in their power to save the life of another, even donate bodily organs.
The laws of Shabbat may also be deferred for a woman who has just given birth within the last three days, to provide more comfort. A patient is allowed to eat non-Kosher food if it is essential for recovery and, on Yom Kippur, a sick person is forbidden to fast if it will impair their recovery and health.
This is what Yeshua was trying to impart—not lawlessness or irreverence for Adonai and the Torah, but the point of it all—Life! 

He came to reveal the Father’s Heart, to heal the sick (even on the Sabbath), to rightly interpret (fulfill, fully preach, Greek: pleroo) the Torah, and bring life! He came to set the captives free by changing the equation that sin = death for those who are redeemed under the New Covenant, ratified by His blood! Bless the Name of the LORD!
As a point of interest, it bears noting how deeply Israel has been impacted by the Torah commandments regarding life, blood, and flesh, to this day...

Following a terror attack in Israel, you may have seen a specialized response team carefully gathering the remains of the victims. This is “ZAKA,” Zihuy Korbanot Ason, which translates to Disaster Victim Identification
The members of ZAKA are volunteers and mostly Orthodox Jews. They assist the ambulance crews and first responders to ensure that all the physical remains and blood of Jewish victims are handled properly and recovered as it is considered sacred.
The founders and members of ZAKA prefer to call the organization and their work Chesed shel Emet (חסד של אמת - Grace of Truth)
After acts of terrorism, ZAKA volunteers also collect the bodies and body parts of non-Jews, including homicide bombers, for return to their families. The phrase Chesed shel Emet refers to doing "kindness" for the benefit of the deceased, which is considered to be “true kindness,” because the deceased who benefit cannot return the kindness.
Among the observant, the Torah has produced a Jewish culture that values LIFE. 

The other side of the coin is the tragedy of the culture that serves Allah, a god who says the highest form of worship is to be a martyr killing the Jews. 

The internet is replete with photos of Arab Palestinians climbing into vehicles of dead leaders or putting their children in, to get the blood on them or grab a piece of flesh (I will not show those photos) of these “shahids,” martyrs for Allah.

A Note on Circumcision
Perhaps Father Knows Best...

“On the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.”
 v. 2

Granted, no one really likes to talk about circumcision ... with good reason. To the Jewish People, it is a sacred tradition—it is the sign of the Covenant. If there were no earthly health benefit, it would be held to just as tenaciously forever.

Every once in a while, a fringe group will try to push legislation through banning it as cruel child abuse, and claiming it is without any health advantage. More often than not, the group is revealed to be rabid, anti-semitic activists, and the furor winds up eliciting a cavalcade of solid and impartial medical support for this ancient rite.

Is that why Adonai instituted it? We just don’t know. Certainly He would not have instituted a practice that would be harmful. Recently a friend related a story of her early marriage many years ago. After the initial honeymoon, this young bride found “married life” terribly painful. As it turned out, over time, repeated infections were causing problems for health and happiness. Finally her doctor discovered the issue—her husband was uncircumcised. After this brave young husband submitted to the procedure, the problem was solved! So, perhaps “Father” simply does know best! 

Leviticus 13:1-59  Tsara’at~Leprosy, Mildew, and Boils, Oh My!

The Torah Concerning Leprosy

“Then the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, When a man has on the skin of his body a swelling or a scab or a bright spot, and it becomes an infection of leprosy on the skin of his body, then he shall be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons the priests. The priest shall look at the mark on the skin of the body, and if the hair in the infection has turned white and the infection appears to be deeper than the skin of his body, it is an infection of leprosy; when the priest has looked at him, he shall pronounce him unclean.” vv. 1-3

“ is an infection of leprosy, in Hebrew tsara’at צרעת leprosy:

a) in people, malignant skin disease Lev. 13-14
b) in clothing, a mildew or mold Lev. 13:47-52
c) in buildings, a mildew or mold Lev. 14:34-53
This is one of those chapters that we tend to just skim over without really reading! Up to verse eight, the priest is observing the early symptoms of this dreaded disease that we don’t want to read about ... picture ... or think about. Symptom by symptom, scab by scab, the priests are instructed how to observe and diagnose until verse eight when the hatchet falls: “...then the priest shall pronounce him unclean; it is leprosy.” v. 8
“When the infection of leprosy is on a man, then he shall be brought to the priest. The priest shall then look, and if there is a white swelling in the skin, and it has turned the hair white, and there is quick raw flesh in the swelling...If the leprosy breaks out farther on the skin, and the leprosy covers all the skin of him who has the infection from his head even to his feet, But whenever raw flesh appears on him, Or if the raw flesh turns again and is changed to white, When the body has a boil on its skin...” (vs. 9,10,12, 14, 16, 18)
Ugh! On and on it goes. Interminable details of leprous skin lesions, boils, and infection—from head to toe... 

How relentless and merciless the corrupting influence of sin! Has it been so long since man and woman walked with God in the Garden of His Delight and all was “good”...a time when death had not yet come into the world...
Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s Disease is a chronic disease caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium leprae and Mycobacterium lepromatosis. Skin lesions are the primary external symptom. If not treated, permanent damage can occur to the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes. Leprosy has two common forms: tuberculoid and lepromatous. Both forms produce sores on the skin. However, the lepromatous form is most severe. It causes large lumps and nodules. 

This was a terrifying disease, and it must not be allowed to spread throughout the camp. Because Adonai instructed the priests so meticulously on this subject—on every physiological presentation of the disease, as well as the corresponding diseases of dwellings and clothing, the congregation of Israel would not panic. All was under control!

There have always been disputes over whether leprosy is given as a judgment, referring back to the incident where Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses, and Miriam became, “...leprous, white as snow.” (Numbers 12:10) It has been said that leprosy is the result of lashon hara, the evil tongue
Whether leprosy was a curse or not, Adonai still had mercy on His People, providing a remedy. Though a diseased man may be “unclean” for a period of time, they were overseen by the priest, and when their time of healing and internment was complete, sacrifice was made for their re-entry into communal life. 
Yeshua however, demonstrated the Father’s love to be even deeper and broader than ever realized. He was moved with compassion when approached by a leper who fell before Him on his knees. He knew Yeshua could make him whole, make him “clean,” or “fit” as the word means. “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”  Matt. 8:2
Yeshua was without sin—by His own words He did not come to annul or destroy the Torah, but to fulfillrightly interpret, fully preach—demonstrate the Father’s Heart through it...  

Man was not created to serve the Torah, Torah was given to sustain mankind... Just like the laws of the physical universe that Adonai created to sustain life... It’s about LIFE! Because God so loved the world that He gave His Son (Yeshua) that we would have LIFE! 
Yeshua, as High Priest, moved with love, stretches out His Divine hand, and touches the leper, saying to him, "I AM willing; be cleansed.” Mark 1:40-41
This is the LOVE of the, “I AM,” 
pronouncing a leper “CLEAN” 
with an entirely new process! 
This process was LOVE...
But this is surpassing LOVE...
Our Maker's form of Beyond Love!” 
*Marcionism is the dualist belief system that originated in Rome from the teachings of Marcion of Sinope around the year 144AD. Marcion affirmed Jesus as the Savior, and Paul as his chief apostle, but he rejected the Hebrew Bible and YHVH (Yahweh), asserting Him to be only the Jewish, wrathful god of the Old Testament. 

Marcion declared that Christianity was distinct from and in opposition to Judaism. 

He rejected in its entirety the Hebrew Bible and declared that the god of the Hebrew Bible was a lesser demiurge—asserting that he had created the earth—but was the source of evil.

The premise of Marcionism is that most of the teachings of Christ are incompatible with the god of the Jewish religion. 
According to Tertullian, Marcion was the first to separate the New Testament from the Old Testament. Marcion is said to have juxtaposed the Jewish Scriptures against the sayings and teachings of Jesus in a work entitled The Antithesis. Focusing on the Pauline traditions of the Gospel, Marcion felt that all other concepts of the Gospel, and especially any association with the Old Testament religion, were opposed to, and backsliding from the truth.
He further saw the arguments of Paul regarding law and gospel, wrath and grace, works and faith, flesh and spirit, sin and righteousness, and death and life as the essence of religious truth.
He ascribed these aspects and characteristics to two principles: 
~the wrathful god of the Old Testament, and a second God of the Gospel,
who he believed to be quite unknown before Christ, who is only love and mercy.

Due to his anti-Trinitarian, dualistic theology he was finally denounced as a heretic. Marcionist ideas have survived, however, and influenced theology throughout the centuries in various forms—in its most virulent, spawning Christian anti-Semitism as seen in Europe, it laid the foundation for the Holocaust.

To be continued...

Haftarah  Tazria
Ezekiel 45:16 - 46:18

It behooves us to consider regularly the grander of our Creator. He is  an intimately involved God, from the personal details of each of our individual lives on  up to  the pinnacle of the corporate worship of Himself, His just due.

Consider our torah portion for this week. In it we saw YHVH’s care of each and every new mother in the nation of Israel. For this segment of Jewish society God set aside their required religious observance and gave time for personal rest, and bonding with newly arrived children.

Further on in this week’s Torah portion much more attention was paid to personal disease. Considered was the individual again, but this time  it was both the single person who was sick and the protection of those who were not.  After reading the prescribed course of action in the case of lepersey one might feel they had had an introductory medical school course in the care and prevention of that particular disease.

Coming to our selected Haftarah portion I had to put my thinking cap on as I considered what the connection might be between the scheduled weekly Torah reading of Leviticus 12:1-15:33 and the sages’ choosing of Ezekiel 45:16-46:18 for the Haftarah reading. On the one hand we’ve got moms and kids, and prevention and treatment of the ailing. And on the other we have the monumental reshaping of the earth culminating in worship of the Messiah Himself in what will be at that time the ultimate Temple. What could one have to do with the other? Well, let’s think about the latter of these two extremes for a moment. Perhaps that will help.

I consider the book of Ezekiel one of the most exciting books of the Tenakh. (For you newbies to thislike me, that’s just the Old Testament.) Our God had Ezekiel write some fantastic stuff in it, not to mention that the theological giants find it a great place to disagree with one another.  So step into the water with me for a bit and enjoy the swim. 

Our author starts the book off with a vision he had. Some have seen the genesis of UFO’s in it. Ezekiel says he saw living beings in wheels, wheels with rims full of eyes all around. (Ezek.1:4-21, esp. vv. 18, 20-21)

And of course there are many prophecies: of judgement, of restoration, and future Millennial reign by the Messiah Himself. Ezekiel  even predicts a future time when  Israel  will be given a new heart and will be careful to obey all of God’s ordinances. (36:24-28; cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34) But controversy is never far from the Bible’s interpreters.

Let’s identify just two camps of folks right now.

One is that of the allegorist. He takes those passages that don’t fit into his preconceived view of how things will end up and does not see them for what they simply say. To him these passages can end up meaning just about anything he wants them to; from the elimination of god’s promises to the nation of Israel, even to the elimination of the nation itself. Allegorizing is a wonderful tool for making the Bible say what you want it to say and ignoring what it simply says.
The other camp is that of the literalist. While he allows for the artistic value of the written word, where obvious, he believes that what God says in the Bible, God means. No, God does not have wings as you may have read. That is there for artistic value. But, God does judge sin, and forgives sinners as well. That’s literal. When God speaks of a six day creation, He means He did it in six days. When God speaks of a future for His Israel, why, He means it. And when God says that not one letter or stroke will pass away from the Law until the recreation of the heavens and earth occurs (Matthew 5:18) that means none of it has passed away yet, unless of course we somehow slept through that recreation. Well, the problem is that even some  that claim to be literalists aren’t quite 100% on that one. I think they better look out. Messiah said, “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven”(Matthew 5:19). And I think that is obviously quite literal.
In case you haven’t guessed yet I am in the literalist camp. And being there Ezekiel ends up with some exciting things that I literally believe are going to happen.

Let’s understand first that much if not all of the earth’s surface is going to be reworked by God as the Tribulation ends and the Millennium begins. Check out Isaiah 2:2-4, 27:13, 56:6-8, 66:20, and Micah 4:1-2. These passages literally say that the single highest mountain in the world will be raised up in the land of Israel. And on top of that mountain the fourth Temple, which will be one mile square in size, will be placed by God. It will become the center of Jewish and Gentile worship. Ezekiel gives us most of our information regarding the Mountain of Jehovah’s House. Read about it in 17:22-24, 20:40-41, 40:1-4, 45:1-8, and 48:8-22. And in our Haftarah portion we see how some of the intricacies of this new Temple worship will work.

This piece opened with asking for consideration of the grander of our Creator, pointing out how intimately involved He is with the details of each of our lives, but He does not stop there.  He will in the future establish on this earth, in Israel, upon the the highest mountain in the world, His fourth Temple,. This will facilitate, up to that point in time, the pinnacle   of corporate human worship of Himself. This is worship He deserves because He is Almighty God.       And this, Ezekiel tells us He will do in His Temple, in the Millennium.

So, how is it God can be so uniquely involved with us individually and yet do the really big things as well? The answer for me is, I don’t know.  I just, don’t, know...

But what I do know is that He is God, and He DOES ... All things well.

Oh, the depth of the riches 
both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! 
For from Him 
and through Him 
and to Him 
are all things. 
To Him be the glory forever.

To Him be the glory…
To Him is due 
the glory.


B'rit Chadashah  Tazria

Matthew 8:1-4

Our B’rit Chadashah portion of Scripture, Matthew 8:1-4, carries on with the subject of leprosy. So let’s stop for a moment and take a closer look at what we are talking about. 

The word itself, leprosy, is used 68 times in the Bible. We find it's used 55 times in the Old Testament and another 13 times in the New. In the Old Testament leprosy could refer to any one of a number of skin or surface conditions. Clothing and walls of a house could have this condition. And obviously people as well. It was characterized as a scaly condition of the skin or of inanimate objects. Leviticus 13 lists seven forms of this condition. What is most important to know about this condition is that it was a socially ostracizing disease, often associated with sin. In Biblical times those who had it had to live outside the camp or town and when others came around the leper had to cry out, “Unclean, unclean.” 

In Matthew 8 the short story of a healing from leprosy is told—but what had happened to account for the incident? In the early portions of Matthew we see Jesus baptized, and the Holy Spirit descend from heaven and come upon Jesus to empower Him. He then separates Himself for forty days in the wilderness where He fasts, and then is tempted by the devil. His ministry is thus officially inaugurated. 

After hearing of John the Baptist being arrested He goes to Capernaum. It is then that we read in Matthew 4:17,  “From that time Jesus began to preach and say, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'” 
  • His public ministry had begun (“From that time...”)
  • He was preaching about His coming Kingdom (“...the Kingdom of Heaven...”)
  • He was saying it is now here (“...the at hand.”)
As we read the concluding verses of Matthew 4 we are told that He is beginning to add to His inner circle of men who we know carried on after Jesus was taken to Heaven some three years later. Now though, He heals. He teaches. And He draws great multitudes who follow Him.
Having drawn this initial following of, “great multitudes,” Jesus goes up on a mountain and presents if you will the Magna Carta of the Kingdom of Heaven. The majority opinion of evangelical Christendom holds that the teachings of Matthew 5-7 are for believers in this “dispensation of the church,” to be lived todayand I would agree.

The truths presented in this “Sermon on the Mount” are not only adjunct to, but expansion of Torah, the Covenant, the Law as it was given to Moses. 
Jesus did not change any of the Law. He lifted it up and embellished it. It was through Him that richer meaning was given to older truths. This teaching of His was radical and it would be all the harder to accept if not authenticated by its Author. 
How was He to do this? The answer would lie in proving that He was the Son of David, the King that was to sit on the Davidic throne in the Millennial state, God Himself.
Time after time, for the three years of His public ministry, Yeshua performed miracles. He healed the sick. He cast out demons. He fed the multitudes. He raised the dead. He prevailed over nature. He did all of this, why? 

The answer is that He was about the business of authenticating the message He had come to give. And that message was first that He was here to offer the Kingdom, if the Jews would accept it ... And then that He was here to die for the sins of man.

Note the turning point in Yeshua’s public ministry in Matthew 16:21. From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.” Note that it was not before this point in His public ministry (It was, “From that time...”). It is just now that He begins to give the death and resurrection message ("...Jesus began to show...that He killed and be raised...”)
So, just after the giving of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus gets to the business of authenticating His message, once again. He had already been successful at this. Read Matthew 4:23-25: 
“Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them. Large crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan.”
And then He preached His Sermon on the Mount, because He had proven to these that He was for real. He had authenticated His message. 

When we come to our B’rit Chadashah portion there is no guessing as to what was going on. Jesus had just finished His Sermon on the Mount, and there where still more Jews to convince of who He really was, many more. 

A leper comes to Yeshua and asks Him to cleanse him of his disease and of course Yeshua does. We don’t know if this man was afflicted because of sin or if he had this affliction so that the works of God might be displayed in him. The latter was the case with the man born blind in John 9. Verses 1-4 show us that physical afflictions are sometimes used to bring to light the character of our God. 
“As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, 'Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?' Jesus answered, 'It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work.'”
Yeshua did many works to prove that He was God in the flesh. Here the work that is presented is that of healing one afflicted with leprosy. There are many principles that could be drawn from this story of Him healing the Leper. Perhaps we might focus on just one...

 does have the power to heal. He proved that time and again. But, not all of His children are healed of the afflictions they have. Some will not be healed soon and perhaps never be healed, but will live out the balance of their days with their affliction. This was the Apostle Paul’s situation. In II Corinthians 12:1-10 Paul speaks of his, as he puts it, “...thorn in the flesh.” He prayed that God would remove it but God would not. Notice:
“...there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” vv. 7-10
A personal note now if I may. I have a loved one that has, “a thorn in the flesh.”  I believe that all that can be done medically is being done, and yet relief is still not theirs. Much prayer has been made for this dear saint, that this thorn would be taken away and yet it has not. What then are we to make of this. It’s only God’s words that make any sense, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” It is not known what the outcome of this thorn will be for them. But of this we are sure, when weak then we are strong. 

Yes, Yeshua does heal, but not always.
Sometimes He choses to demonstrate His great power
through the weaknesses He allows into our lives. 
In the end we do not ask why this affliction. 
Rather we ask, how...
How can I glorify the Master by using His power in my weakness?

Shabbat Shalom in His Love,
His EVERY Word Ministries